The Net Neutrality Debate – Part 1

Have you heard about the latest proposals from the FCC on “net neutrality?” Do you care? If you don’t, you should.

 

The concept of net neutrality sounds very noble and, in some aspects, it is. The concept, coined by Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, states that:

 

“Network neutrality is best defined as a network design principle. The idea is that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally. This allows the network to carry every form of information and support every kind of application. The principle suggests that information networks are often more valuable when they are less specialized — when they are a platform for multiple uses, present and future.”

 

An example of this idea is like the electrical grid. It is less specialized. You can plug anything in that needs electricity and it will work any pace, any time, anywhere. There is power in being less specialized.

 

However, as politicians have a tendency to do, they tend to never aim for true north. There is always some declination that causes them to veer off-course. The issues here is classifying broadband as a utility. Think again of an electrical utility, while less specialized, it is highly regulated; specifically, the government sets pricing and imposes taxes.

 

This is what people in the tech world fear. Changing the classification of broadband internet from a high speed information service to a telecommunications service opens Pandora’s Box. Take a look at your cell phone bill and count the taxes you pay.

 

How can you have something “open and free” when it is regulated?

 

 

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